In March 1981, Britain imposed its veto on Guatemala to sign a document agreeing to recognize the independent state of Belize and respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity in accordance with existing and traditional borders. A very important element that influenced Guatemala`s inflexible change in attitude was the fact that Britain, supported by the 1960 United Nations Declaration on granting independence to colonial countries and peoples, made it clear to Britain that if Guatemala were ready to recognize Belize, Belize would become independent. Another determining factor that motivated Guatemala was to recognize Belize, where recognition depended on what had been agreed. In other words, they hoped to be able to negotiate the rest of the articles “economic and territorial” agreements in a way that would have been favourable to Guatemala, so that the pill of recognition was not too difficult to swallow. This in itself was a huge success, since Guatemala not only accepted Belize`s independence and full sovereignty, but also renounced its right to any Belizean territory, according to Article #1. However, this was conditional on the execution of contracts to bring certain clauses of the document into force. The document was called “Heads of Agreement.” “This means that only the titles or topics on which we hope to reach an agreement are defined at a later date. This is by no means a final agreement. 109 The public reaction in Belize was initially moderate, but the public service union immediately condemned the agreement as a promotional gift and promised strike action. The government`s arguments that nothing had been agreed upon fell on deaf ears. Another group responsible for the anti-helmet response was the Belize Action Movement, a youth movement with young people who saw the need to fight for Belize not to fall into Guatemala`s hands. On 20 March, BAM and PSU coordinated a national strike and protests. Belize`s security was, of course, one of our main concerns during the negotiations. I think it is too early to say what the solution will be.
The issue will of course be debated at the constitutional conference, but I think the nature of the agreement may make the need a little different from what it would have been if there had been no agreement. Gentlemen, we would also like to warmly congratulate the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mr Nicholas Ridley on the end of the negotiations so far.